To me, Street Art is the expression of a city. Modern, direct, critical, colourful, fast moving. When I visit a place for the first time I always try to find the Street Art spots. In cities which I know well (London, Munich, Berlin) it’s always fascinating to go back to known places and look around for new pieces of art. Some exist for a few days only, then they are destroyed, whitewashed or just painted over by another artist. But this is what makes Street Art so interesting to me. It’s unpredictable. You will always find something new but will also see “old friends” that have been on the walls for months or years. Obviously I don’t like every artist or technique. It’s like art in a museum – I either like it or I don’t.
Street Art in Londons East End
London has several areas where you will find good Street Art. In the East End, around Brick Lane, you will find it in entrances of houses and backyards, in small streets and in tunnels, even on the shutters of the shops. Colourful drawings and mosaics, even some three-dimensional pieces. I promise, you will be fascinated! You can easily start walking on your own and discover for yourself. I recommend to start from “Aldgate East” Station and begin exploring Brick Lane from there. If you prefer to walk on nearly empty streets, come early when the shops are still closed. Then you can also see the art on the shutters.
If you prefer to go on a guided tour, I recommend booking with “Urban Street Art Tours London“. They will take you to some secret spots and will give you a lot of background knowledge about artists and their work. Most of the messages behind street art are political, critical, dunning (about war, exploitation…).
Btw, in the next post I will tell you more about my tour with Urban Street Art Tours London and our guide Cris will tell us how he came to admire Street Art and where to find his favourite spots.
Shoreditch – hipster area with a lot of Street Art
Pretty close to Brick Lane you will find Shoreditch. The area is quite alternative and relaxed but also very cool. Not only will you find galleries and startups but also the pop-up mall “Boxpark”. In former shipping containers you can buy clothes, cosmetics, accessories and food. In the evenings there is often live music.
And then there is lots of Street Art. Again: keep your eyes open, look into backyards, change your perspective and look up at houses.
Something special is – at least for me – the work of Borondo at the window of the “Bull in a China shop”. The Spanish artist engraved humans into the glass and then painted with a white colour. A very unique style which demonstrates his talents.
Discover Street Art in Camden
In Camden, in the North of London, there is another hot spot for street art. If you enjoy walking, leave the tube at “Mornington Cresent” and start walking towards “Camden High Street”.
Keep your eyes open and find beautiful pieces on walls, in backyards and entrances. Also visit some of the parallel streets to High Street as some of the good pieces ones are hidden there.
In this area you will also find the 9 stops of the “Amy Street Art” trail which opened in March 2017 to honour Amy Winehouse who lived in Camden.
More info about the trail and its art and the accompanying exhibition at the Jewish museum can be found in the blog posts “Amy Winehouse Street Art Trail” and “Amy Winehouse exhibition and Street Art at the Jewish museum“.
Street Art in a tunnel – Leake Street or the Banksy tunnel
I discovered this spot about a year ago: the tunnel in “Leake Street” underneath Waterloo Station. Yes, that’s right. Underneath the big station there are vaults and tunnels which were discovered by street artists. The light is not that great and because we are in a tunnel, the smell of the spray is more intense (if you are lucky to find an artist at work or if the work is still new). But this gives a special atmosphere, too.
If you are around anyway, why not visit “House of Vans“?! Do some skating or have a burger. Sometimes they also have exhibitions or free movies.
Sometimes, the tunnel is called “Banksy” tunnel as Banksy had the “Cans Festival” down here in 2008 and the tunnel got sprayed on for the first time. And somehow this post wouldn’t be complete without him being mentioned at least shortly. Banksy, for many THE street artist. His identity is still unknown, we only know that he is from Bristol and that his career started in the 90s. There are constant rumours about Banksy being a woman or a whole collective of artists. But nobody knows for sure. He has become quite popular in the last years and his work can be found all over the world. This leads to older works being dismantled and sold for high prices at auctions. Personally, I think it’s pretty uncool that street art which is supposed to be outdoors, for free and for everyone is taken away from the communities and gets lost behind safe walls.
What do you think about street art being dismantled and sold?
Where have you found cool pieces of Street Art in London?
Do you have a favourite artist?
Leave a comment below the post and let me know.
This post is also available in: Deutsch